You know what the world needs? More body conscious, self-loathing, neurotic 8-year-old girls. At least, that’s what it seems as though US Discovery Girls magazine is gunning for with their latest issue. The magazine has received an avalanche of angry Tweets from livid mums for one of its featured articles, a cartoony diagram entitled, “Which Swimmers Best Suits You?”
The spread is full of helpful tips like “Side ties and cut-outs draw eyes down,” and “Add curves with asymmetrical straps and bold prints,” because – you know – if you’re not curvy by age 10 you may as well just wear a slanket to the beach and ask a friend to bury your body in the sand.
Of course (of course?) the magazine meant no harm by telling apple-shaped girls to opt for “busy geometrics” that would “draw the eye inward,” but – ew — even just thinking about it makes me cringe with disgust. Whose eye are they hoping to draw inward? Horny 8-year-old boys? Paedophiles?
Presumably not. The magazine’s founder and mum to the original Discovery Girl, Catherine Lee, wrote a long, effusive apology on their Facebook page. “I am in total agreement with all of you regarding this article,” she wrote, later adding that, “The article was supposed to be about finding cute, fun swimmerss that make girls feel confident, but instead it focused on girls’ body image and had a negative impact.”
I get what she’s trying to say, the article took a wrong turn somewhere and someone is probably getting seriously reamed at Discovery Girls headquarters right now, but I’m surprised nobody at the magazine had even a niggling suspicion that this was a no-no. I mean, yes we want our tween daughters to be confident, but WTF does that have to do with bikinis?! Did the fact that they chose to use waify white cartoon girls rather than human models clue them into the fact that maaaaybe a swimmers spread for 8- to 13-year-old girls was just a little bit icky? Or, that, at 8-years-old, girls have not yet (hopefully) thought to equate confidence with swimwear?
As the mother of an impressionable 5-year-old girl who wants hair down to the ground like Rapunzel, I live in fear of the day she won’t wear her favourite dress because it makes her look fat, or starts asking me to stock fat-free items in the fridge. Yes, like most of us I totally have issues with my body, but I keep them to myself and try hard not to ridicule my appearance or discuss my weight in front of her. I want my daughter to be confident and happy, and I don’t need a magazine making her wonder if she’s too “straight up and down” or “round in the middle.” There’s plenty of time for that when she gets older, and the best part is (ironic voice), once the glass is shattered these self-deprecating thoughts will never go away! I doubt Discovery Girls was trying to rip the Band-Aid by telling little girls they are only as confident as their swimwear, but the sad fact is, they kinda did.
More on raising girls:
- To the People Who Call My Baby Girl Fat (An Open Letter)
- 24 Things I’ll Never Say in Front of My Daughter
- 25 Powerful & Inspiring Quotes to Share with Your Daughter
Photo: Twitter/Taffy Ackner